The information and telecommunications sectors will have to get used to a new Industry Minister after Quebec MP Christian Paradis
was appointed to take over the department in the new Conservative government.
Tony Clement was rewarded for two and a half years of overseeing Industry by being named president of the Treasury Board, meaning he’ll be responsible for chopping government spending.
Paradis, pictured, who has represented the riding of Megantic-L’Erable since 2006, had been minister of natural resources in the last government, and public works minister before that.
He takes over at a when the Industry department is juggling a number of tricky files:
---Creating a digital economy strategy. Clement was ready to make a statement on May 2, but the election got in the way;
--Reform of foreign telecom investment rules. Promised a year ago, this has become tied to the department’s upcoming wireless spectrum auctions, which the wireless industry would like to hold sooner rather than later. It has been thought that either a 700 Mhz or a 2100 Mhz auction, or both, will be held next year;
--Setting the rules for upcoming spectrum auctions. Will there be set-asides for new entrants, as there was in the 2008 AWS auction? If so, what’s the definition of a new entrant? It is thought that the government will want to offer some protection to the new carriers such as Wind Mobile
, Mobilicity and Public Mobile. The new entrants are lobbying for exclusivity on the next auction, arguing incumbent carriers are sitting on lots of unused spectrum. For their part the incumbents say the next auction should have no restrictions.
--Usage-based billing. Clement was firm, some might say rude, in public comments after the CRTC allowed BCE Inc.'s Bell Canada to go ahead with imposing its UBB rates on ISPs who buy wholesale Internet access. After the uproar the commission decided to hold new hearings this summer. But what will Paradis do if the commission sticks to its guns?
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruled that Wind’s parent company wasn’t Canadian-controlled under the regulations of the Telecommunications Act, a decision over-ruled by cabinet. Public Mobile appealed that decision, saying the cabinet made an exception for Wind that should be available to all telecom carriers. Earlier this year a Federal Court judge agreed. Should the appeal court or the Supreme Court of Canada back that decision up, Paradis will have to find a solution.